Kristin Hersh has been a mainstay of the alternative music scene since the late 1980s with her band Throwing Muses, and later as a solo artist and with 50FootWave. Living in Boston, I got to see Kristin perform all the time. In fact, I've probably seen her live more than any other performer. My favorite memory is when she was hugely pregnant playing a show at the Middle East downstairs, and they'd put up little signs all over asking people not to smoke for Kristin's sake (remember when you could smoke in bars?!).
In case you're not familiar, here's an early live performance (good audio, bad video)
and a solo video
She also published a musical memoir of sorts last year, Rat Girl, where she intertwines stories from her early days as a teen musician in Providence, RI with lyrics from songs. She did a number of live performances from the book, reading and singing. She's a compelling storyteller, in song, spoken word, and print. There's quite simply no one like her.
Kristin has set up an innovative system to sustain herself as an independent, working musician called Strange Angels. Think of it like an ongoing Kickstarter campaign. In her words:
You and Kristin are stake holders in common. You both want the art to continue. Kristin wants to continue working. Your support keeps this flow moving, and that flow creates a read-write experience where all parties in the artistic ecosystem enrich the experience as a whole. It’s about supporting the artist and listeners alike.
You pay $30 a quarter to support Kristin as an artist, and in return you get free media downloads (rare early TM concerts, works in progress, previews), free concert tickets, free CDs, etc. For me, having a personal connection with one of my favorite musicians is the best benefit possible.